If youâ€™ve ever sat in front of the telly watching something that interests you but doesnâ€™t require all your concentration, youâ€™ll probably know what I mean by â€˜comfort computingâ€™.
Youâ€™ll have felt your brain coddle like an egg as you sit there, and youâ€™ll have wished you could be planning that holiday or finding out when that movie is on, or looking at your friendâ€™s wedding photos or checking out recipes for â€˜winter warmersâ€™ or, well, you get the idea.
The strategies for comfort computing as things stand at the moment could involve any of the following:
Leave the TV alone, and go and sit at your computer desk. Hardly ideal, as it completely defeats the multitasking point â€“ unless you have a TV card in your PC of course, in which case you can pop the programme into one corner of the screen and do your â€œthangâ€ with the computer as the priority technology. Thatâ€™s quite a neat solution, but in my experience, itâ€™s not very comfortable and certainly doesnâ€™t deliver the â€˜sitting in the front room relaxedâ€™ kind of thing I am looking for.
If you own a laptop, give it an outing into the front room. This probably means giving up on the lounging and slouching in favour of sitting up straight, and suffering a bit from the weight of your laptop on the knees, the processor heat and the odd posture that simultaneous laptop use and TV viewing requires. I have one of those trays with fold out legs that I use for this purpose from time to time. It lifts the laptop off my knees, and puts it in a slightly more ergonomic position. But itâ€™s still not quite what I am looking for.
Get out your Tablet PC â€“ if you are one of the few people who have one of these. This is, when you first think about it a neat solution, as you can swivel the screen round to hide the keyboard, and then lounge on your sofa or in your chair, holding the Tablet PC as you would a book, prodding at its screen with its stylus to surf away as you choose.
My experience of doing this in practice isnâ€™t quite so soft-focussed gorgeous as the theory, though. First off, I donâ€™t know a Tablet PC that is as light to hold in one hand as a paperback book. My arm starts to flag after a while, and then I have to shift around to find a position where I can rest the Tablet PC without having to hold it â€“ and invariably comfort suffers.
Also I drop the stylus down the sides of the sofa, and as I canâ€™t prod the screen without it, I need to go a-huntinâ€™. I might come out of the foraging experience a little richer, and having found, along with some cash, a few bits and bobs Iâ€™d thought were lost for ever, but Iâ€™m now tetchy and Iâ€™ve missed my TV programme. (Yes, I know there are some passive-screened Tablet PCs around nowadays that respond to finger prodding, but I donâ€™t happen to have one of these at the moment).